Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to former US President Donald Trump, reveals in a forthcoming book that when Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there in 2017, backlash Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was decidedly lukewarm, according to The Forward.
Citing excerpts from the book posted online by a Saudi official, the outlet reported that according to Kushner, Netanyahu’s cold response nearly sabotaged the plan.
Kushner’s book, “Breaking History: A White House Memoir,” is slated for release August 23.
The book says that in a phone call before the official announcement, Trump informed Netanyahu of the decision, but the former prime minister simply replied, “If you choose to do this, I will support you. Kushner wrote that a confused Trump, who had expected an exuberant reaction, repeated himself, to which Netanyahu again “responded with less than expected enthusiasm.”
“Trump began to question his decision… [he] wondered out loud why he was taking this risk if the Israeli prime minister didn’t think it was so important,” Kushner wrote, and claimed that Trump then told the former prime minister, “Bibi, I think you are the problem.
Netanyahu “chilled back” explaining that he was part of the solution. However, Kushner wrote that he could see Trump was visibly “frustrated.”
Kushner apparently did not say why he thought Netanyahu responded the way he did.
A statement from Netanyahu’s office said that “contrary to claims, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has repeatedly asked President Trump to move the embassy, has expressed great satisfaction with the move.
“President Trump told Prime Minister Netanyahu before making the decision, ‘Some of my aides say this step will be dangerous for the United States. What do you think?’ Netanyahu replied that he saw no real danger and that there was no reason not to move the embassy.
“It is unlikely that the embassy would have been moved if Netanyahu had responded to the president otherwise.”
Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since its founding in 1948, although much of the international community does not recognize it, because according to the original UN partition plan, Jerusalem was to be an international city.
Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, when he announced his intention to move the embassy there. In May 2018, his administration opened the new facility — a move that sparked intense controversy, both in Washington and in the Middle East.
Following the move, Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, severed ties with Washington, calling the Trump administration biased toward Israel.
At the time, Trump said the decision was made to advance US interests and peace in the region, and out of respect for Israel’s sovereignty.
Kushner’s book also revealed that Trump was annoyed by an extended three-hour meal he attended with Netanyahu during his 2017 visit.
‘It was beautiful, but every time I thought the meal would end, another dish would come out,’ Trump apparently told Kushner, and complained that the then prime minister ‘didn’t talk to me’ .
Netanyahu and Trump enjoyed a good relationship throughout his tenure, until Trump felt betrayed by Netanyahu when he congratulated current US President Joe Biden on his 2020 election victory.
Kushner is married to Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, and served as a White House adviser. He played an important role in the previous administration’s Middle East policy, participating in a diplomatic push that culminated in the Abraham Accords – a peace accord that saw Israel enter into diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates. States, Bahrain and Morocco.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.